God makes an interesting statement as He is reproving His people through the prophet Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 6:15 God says that although His people should have been ashamed of their actions and choices, “They did not even know how to blush.” Now for too many in our culture, the whole concept of blushing at certain behaviors is a long-lost memory, but I actually can remember early in my walk with God when He restored to me the ability to blush. Let’s take a brief look at God’s lament – and maybe try ourselves to recover from Him an ability to blush once again.
The reason a nation can no longer blush begins, strangely enough, in the pulpits of the land. It begins when men of God begin to value money and things more than they do truth and intimate fellowship with God through the Holy Spirit.
"For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is greedy for gain, And from the prophet even to the priest Everyone deals falsely.”
What begins as false motives for men of God quickly degenerates into a false message to the people. They no longer can honestly preach about sin, because they are excusing it in their own lives so they can pursue things rather than pursue God. Thus they preach a message that is saying, “Peace, peace,” when the reality is there is no peace as long as sin is not exposed and dealt with as God desires for it to be.
"They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace.”
There is a brokenness that is among the people – there always is because of the Fall – and because man is not basically good – but basically sinful and selfish. That message, though, won’t bring the crowds. They need something far more positive – far more engaging to those who choose sin. They need to find a way to “superficially” deal with sin. So, they begin to proclaim that man is at peace with God – even when sin is not dealt with as God demands in His holiness. The problem is – there is no peace when sin is not confronted and repentance is not called for by the messengers of God. And what is the result of such theology, or the lack thereof? No more shame and no more blushing.
"Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; They did not even know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time that I punish them, They shall be cast down," says the LORD.
God speaks of the abomination that they have done. What was their abomination? It was that they had left the true and living God – and made a god of their own – one who would justify however they wanted to live. Now before we think too harshly of the Israelites – we may want to note that this is something that has been repeated in the New Testament in Romans chapter 1. God’s wrath is revealed against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Three times in that first chapter we are reminded that they did not know the true God, but exchanged Him for a god of their own making. What was the hallmark of this new false god? No sin! At least no sin according to what is revealed by God in the Bible.
Let me define the word “blush” before we continue. To blush is to experience a reddening of the face due to a feeling of shame or a desire for modesty. The reason God says that they did not even know how to blush is because they had come to a point of utterly rejecting the morals or the Word of God. They were doing abominations – but no longer considered them to be that. As a result – they, and the culture in which they lived now considered what God to be an abomination to be normal fare. No reason to blush. No reason to feel any shame.
There is a false teaching that says Christians should not feel shame. But I find that hard to understand. If we are talking about undue shame, I agree. But if we are talking about having sinned against God – shame is normal – can I say, even good. It was a good thing after I received Christ that actions I would normally do before, now caused me to feel shame if I did them. It was a wonderful thing that seeing or hearing things suddenly elicited a response of blushing rather than a shrugging of the shoulders. The passage in Jeremiah shares more of the sad results of no longer being able to blush. There is a corresponding response to the Word of God that comes as well.
“Thus says the LORD, "Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.' 17 "And I set watchmen over you, saying, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not listen.”
God says to them, “Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls.” These “ancient paths” and the “good way” are nothing more than what God’s Word says to do – the way He commands for us to walk. But what is the response? “We will not walk in it.” God responds by saying to listen to the watchmen when they sound the trumpet. This is a reference to when a watchman was set upon the wall of the city. The reason he would sound the trumpet would be to warn of imminent danger. But the response again is that they will not listen. They will not respond to God because they have set themselves to disobey God’s Word. They do not regard it as authoritative – or of any real value to them. What God says is wrong – isn’t wrong to them. What God warns as being dangerous – is not even worthy of their attention. Thus what God calls “blush-worthy” and should cause us to blush in shame or a desire for greater modesty – is ignored. Those who have lost the ability to blush have few moral boundaries if any at all. To blush would involve seeing some moral behaviors – some sexual choices as wrong. To call something wrong in this society is the new reddening statement. But now the redness of face is no longer a response of shame or modesty. It has become the standard response to anyone who would dare to put some kind of moral or sexual restraint in place that limits our freedom to do or to be whatever we want.
What is the end of such a culture? What happens when any culture loses its ability to blush? God says what happens in the last verses of this section of Jeremiah 6.
"Therefore hear, O nations, And know, O congregation, what is among them. "Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, The fruit of their plans, Because they have not listened to My words, And as for My law, they have rejected it also.”
Disaster is the end of such a society. There is a disaster because they are ignoring a loving God whose restraints are in place because they guard us from destructive behavior. The very fruit of their plans is what they will receive. They refuse to listen to God’s words – the reject His law. All that is left is for that culture to begin self-destructing. Usually it won’t be immediate. Sin is, after all, enjoyable for a season. But in the end – the result is death – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and yes – even culturally. That was what God was wanting to communicate to His people – not because he wanted to harm them – but because their very choices were harming themselves.
For the past several days I’ve been reading through the book of Jeremiah. The prophet Jeremiah lived in a day much like our own. It was a day when the nation of Israel was turning from the Lord and was beginning to experience more and more problems as God’s discipline rose in its intensity. I hope that you realize that for the past several decades (actually more like the past 50-60 years) we’ve been turning from the Lord as a nation. The result of that has been a steady diet of God’s discipline as He seeks to bring us back to Himself. I could go into detail on what that discipline looks like – but instead want to give a perspective from Jeremiah on what the religious world looks like in a time of decline. That is what chapter 23 of Jeremiah details for us. If you want to stop at this point in the article and read Jeremiah 23 feel free to do so – it might help in giving you a better context for this article.
One of the things that happens in a nation in decline is that the men of God meant to preach and declare God’s Word – stop doing that task. It is not a pleasant task to be those who help act as the conscience of a nation – yet without them, that nation will find itself plunging into ruin as sin abounds. What had happened in Judah was that their prophets and priests had decided to turn to a “more positive message” than that of declaring that the nation had sinned and needed to repent. Look at these passages from Jeremiah 23.
"Moreover, among the prophets of Samaria I saw an offensive thing: They prophesied by Baal and led My people Israel astray. Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; and they strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one has turned back from his wickedness. All of them have become to Me like Sodom, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah.” Jeremiah 23:13-14 (NASB)
Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the LORD. They keep saying to those who despise Me, 'The LORD has said, "You will have peace"'; and as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, they say, 'Calamity will not come upon you. But who has stood in the council of the LORD, that he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listened? Jeremiah 23:16-18 (NASB)
"I did not send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, but they prophesied. But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people, and would have turned them back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds. Jeremiah 23:21-22 (NASB)
"I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, 'I had a dream, I had a dream!’ How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal? The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has a My word speak My word in truth. Jeremiah 23:25-28 (NASB)
"Behold, I am against the prophets," declares the LORD, "who use their tongues and declare, 'The Lord declares.' Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams," declares the LORD, "and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit," declares the LORD. Jeremiah 23:31-32 (NASB)
To summarize – the spiritual leaders of God’s people had first let their own morals and character decline. As a result of their own sin – they were less likely to speak on sin – and therefore strengthened people in the same sins that were rampant in their own lives. The second passage related how, having grieved the Holy Spirit, they no longer had the Spirit leading them. What is a prophet to do when he has no prophecy from God’s Spirit? Why that’s easy – he prophesies from his own spirit instead. That is what they were doing – prophesying on their own – telling people what they wanted to hear – preaching peace where there was no peace – and helping people sin and think God was going to do anything about it. God even asks if any of them had stood in His counsel and received His Word. The answer to that was a resounding – NO! They spoke dreams and visions of their own making – or they stole stuff from other prophets who were popular among the people. God said that these “so-called” prophetic words, dreams, and declarations were not helping people at all. God’s Word would have declared to them their sin – and presented God’s remedy for it. They didn’t want that because that meant speaking of sin and repentance to the people. What is truly dangerous about all this is that in the end – the people love the new prophets! They are not “negative” and don’t speak of things like sin and repentance. They have a God who never judges – except against those who are judgmental!
There is a haunting end to all this according to God – who speaks to Jeremiah.
"Thus will each of you say to his neighbor and to his brother, 'What has the LORD answered?' or, 'What has the LORD spoken?' For you will no longer remember the oracle of the LORD, because every man's own word will become the oracle, and you have perverted the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God. Jeremiah 23:35-36 (NASB)
The end of all this is a complete loss of the Word of God among a nation – or at least a perverting of it. The men of God, who should be waiting on God for His Word, are no longer doing so. Instead they prophesy from their own inspiration and share their own “more positive” message. Before long – everyone can “learn” to prophesy – and they start to do so, which results in just about everyone thinking that they have, “a word from the Lord.” But what has actually happened is that the “Word from the Lord” has actually been lost. This is because as God says here through Jeremiah, “every man’s own word will become the oracle.” What happens is that everyone’s word is considered the Word of the Lord – because to say otherwise is to be judgmental and sectarian. The religious world looks very similar to the time of Judges when “every man did what was right in his own eyes.” The only difference is that in this situation – every prophet’s word becomes God’s message in his own life.
God sent Jeremiah into the midst of this mess to declare His Word in the midst of it. It was a word of righteousness calling the people to repentance and return to God and the Word He gave in Scripture. It was a word that sounded harsh to that generation – because they no longer thought God to be a righteous God – who had absolute moral truth – and a godliness to be followed. It was also a word that warned that God WAS about to bring judgment to the world – and severe discipline to His people for their abandonment of Him. When they asked Jeremiah what the Word of the Lord was – he simply answered, “I will abandon you.” That is a difficult word to hear – especially for any generation like ours. But an even more terrifying word was coming to those men who were posing as prophets, priests, and men of God. To the ones who prophesied out of their own spirit – who turned from being God’s prophet – to being one who only seeks profit from being a prophet – God had an even harsher (yet perfectly righteous and just word).
"Therefore behold, I will surely forget you and cast you away from My presence, along with the city which I gave you and your fathers. I will put an everlasting reproach on you and an everlasting humiliation which will not be forgotten." Jeremiah 23:39-40 (NASB)
In the end – these posers faced not only their own demise – but also the demise of the entire nation whom they had led astray. They would be cast from God’s presence – along with the city (or maybe in our generation we can read “audience”) where they prophesied. They would receive an everlasting reproach and humiliation from God Himself for their wickedness.
Saints of God – I don’t particularly enjoy having to write such things. But the fact of the matter is that we are living in Jeremiah’s day again in our nation. As we plunge head first into whole new depths of wickedness, sin, and depravity – the false prophets and dreamers are continuing to tell people that what they lack is health, wealth, and prosperity. You can turn on the religious TV stations and hear it again and again – with an appeal at the end for more of your money to help fund their wicked empires (and to get them a new jet which they say is a necessity for their ministry). Their preaching draws huge crowds and their “self-styled” and “self-inspired” words from God are providing absolutely no profit to the people – even as they do provide plenty of profit for the false prophet. In the end – both they and their hearers will be abandoned and given over to judgment. Oh that there were men of God who would wait in the presence of the Lord to declare the Word of the Lord to His people. Oh that God would raise up true prophets who would declare the sin of this nation to its people – so that there would be a benefit from their words. Oh dear God – where are the Jeremiah’s of God for this current generation!?
The Republican National Convention is being affected by a hurricane. They are having to delay the start of the convention - and there is a possibility that additional changes may happen as the hurricane develops.
What is truly strange - and I think beyond coincidence is that the day that Hurricane Issac formed as a tropical depression, that was the day that the Republican platform committee voted to put the "two-state" position concerning Israel's land for peace through the formal approval process at the convention. This all happened on Tuesday, August 21st. God has said that He would bless those who bless Israel - and that He would curse those who curse her.
The two-state land for peace lie that had permeated the entire peace process in the Middle East has long been promoted as a viable solution. The problem is that as Israel has ceded more and more land - less and less peace has been the result. Now the Republican party has decided that this will be their official position toward Israel - one that is anything but friendly to a long-time ally. The radical Islamic groups that fill the Middle East see this as nothing more than protracted weakness - and an opportunity to continue to drive a wedge between the United States and Israel. This is because Israel cannot abide by an agreement that only requires movement and compromise from one side alone.
God is not pleased with this - and to be honest - Hurricane Issac is only a harbinger of more things to come. This decision has far more to do with Islamic accomodation than it does any kind of biblical or political wisdom. We will NOT be blessed in the end for such decisions - and yet as Christ's coming draws nearer - we know that all nations will abandon Israel. It is just sad to watch our nation turn to be one of them in our generation.
What kind of “peace” is Iran seeking in our world today – and for that matter – is the peace for which they strive one that is peace – or is it what the Bible refers to when those says, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace?”
This is a question we should ask when we learn that Iran has been conducting secret tests of missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads throughout the countries of the Middle East. William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary has announced that Iran has conducted secret tests of missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads in breach of U.N. resolutions. He has said the following: "Iran has also been carrying out covert ballistic missile tests and rocket launches, including testing missiles capable of delivering a nuclear payload in contravention of UN resolution 1929."
This really should not shock us – unless we are among those who falsely believe that Islam is a religion of peace. We should be wise to the way that the term, “Religion of peace” is used by Islam – and just what it truly represents – which is peace, when there is no peace. Iran is interested in spreading the “peace of Islam” all over the world – yet too many in the west take that phrase with far too literal a meaning – which we should understand that the “peace of Islam” is only for those who submit to the law of Islam. Those who reject and oppose Sha’ria Law are not promised peace . . . they are promised a holy war instead. This is how we can hear one word out of President Ahmadinejad’s mouth concerning peace – while out of the other side of his mouth he spews hatred toward Israel and the United States. This is how he can say one thing to the American and English-speaking press – while saying quite another to his own people.
The peace of Islam is based on the coming arrival of their “messiah” the Mahdi. He will come in the last days according to their views, and set up what they call a worldwide Caliphate. The worldwide Caliphate will be a rule and reign of the Mahdi that will establish Islam as the one worldwide religion by force. There is no tolerance of other religious views in this Caliphate – Allah is God and Islam is the only allowed religion. Those who dare believe otherwise will face dire consequences.
Some may cry, “Foul!” at such a description of things – yet what do we see in countries where Sha’ria law is the law of the land? Is there open tolerance of Christianity? Are they kind to other religious views and persuasions? They are outlawed. Yet in spite of what we actually SEE and KNOW to be happening we too often parrot the statement that Islam is a religion of peace. What we are learning all too slowly is that if there is a peace in Islam – it is the peace of Islam – which is anything but peace to anyone who holds a differing view of things than they do. This is how they can speak of peace out of one side of their mouths – and be making every kind of incendiary kind of statement preparing for war out of the other side. Oh, that we might have discernment to see the difference – and act accordingly.
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